How Do I Get Married In A National Park?
How Do I Get Married in a National Park?
You’ve decided a traditional wedding and venue just aren’t your style. You love being outdoors, hiking, and camping, so naturally you’re drawn to having nature incorporated into your wedding day. Getting married at your favourite National Park seems like the perfect fit. But where do you even begin with your research?
Choosing the perfect National Park to say ‘I do’ at may seem like a big undertaking, and we’d have to agree. You can choose a dreamy forest setting like Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, or a bright, red desert setting like in Arches National Park in Utah. There are really so many options for your intimate day!
The first step in planning is research! You can find up to date information such as road closures, weather conditions, and campsites within the parks if you and your guests plan on pitching a tent after your ceremony. You can find all that information on the National Park Service website https://www.nps.gov/index.htm and by searching your desired park.
Hot Tip: Most of the parks have a ‘Weddings’ section that gives you all the pertinent information all in one place.
Note that application fees are non-refundable and can range anywhere from $30-$50+ and may not always get approved. It’s recommended that you choose a backup date in case your original date is already booked. There is no hold on your day until final payments are received by the National Parks Service.
Depending on which park you’d like to get married in, expect to invest anywhere from $100-$250+ and any additional land recovery fees (for larger ceremonies or events held in certain areas within the parks) and Monitors the NPS may assign to help protect the environment and enforce regulations. Note that your application fees only cover the administrative side of your application and any Monitor fees are typically charged per hour, so make sure you read all the fine print before submitting your application.
There are some activities that are prohibited throughout the parks, such as:
• Use of speakers or music that is louder than normal speaking volumes
• Access to any areas of the park and trails being impeded by a wedding ceremony
• Hanging of banners or decorations on natural or historic sites
• Releasing of balloons, birds, and other living things
Be sure to check your chosen National Park site within the NPS database on additional rules, regulations, and maximum wedding party sizes before submitting your application. Applications can be processed in as little as 7 days prior, to anywhere from 60-180 in advance. So be sure to plan accordingly and take into account that depending on the season and park, your date may get booked much sooner than that.
Additionally, a Wedding and Events Permit is different than a Commercial Photography Permit. If you are bringing in a photographer or videographer to capture your ceremony, make sure you apply for this as well. These can typically range from $150-300+ and require your photographer to carry a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy, listing the United States as the COI (carrier of insurance) for your date. Make sure you send in your applications early, as photography permits can take as little as 3 weeks to process or as long as 6+ weeks.
We totally recommend applying for your Weddings and Events Permit as soon as possible, as most popular National Parks will be the choice of many couples across the country during their peak months because of the perfect weather. So be sure to plan accordingly with your wedding date and your accommodations after your ceremony, as some Parks can be located many miles away from lodging, restaurants, and gas.
Lastly, once your date has been secured by the NPS, we either recommend including GPS coordinates on your invites for guests in the event there is a lack of cell service in your chosen location, or providing transportation into the National Park. Be aware that some National Parks can prohibit vehicles on the roadway due to their own shuttle service, so be sure to take transportation into account for your guests when planning your wedding.